כ״ז בניסן ה׳תשע״ח (April 12, 2018)

Horayot 12a-b: The Anointing Oil

Although we learned on yesterday’s daf that the anointing oil made by Moshe at the time of the consecration of the mishkan was supposed to remain for use at the end of days, nevertheless, the Gemara on today’s daf teaches that it was already missing by the end of the first Temple period.

According to a baraita quoted by the Gemara, the aron – the Ark of the Covenant – had been hidden away towards the end of the first Temple period by King Yoshiyahu, who understood that the passage ( 28:36) which described the exile was referring to his time.  The Radak, in fact, explains that this is the passage that was highlighted in the sefer Torah discovered during Yoshiyahu’s reign (see the story in II 22). According to that tradition, several other items that were on display in the Temple were concealed together with the ark. They included the container of manna, Aharon the ’s staff and the shemen ha-mish’ḥa, the pitcher of oil used for anointing.  Rabbi Elazar explains that by use of a series of gezerot shavot – parallel word usage in the Torah – King Yoshiyahu understood that these things which were kept next to the aron in the Holy of Holies were supposed to remain together, and when faced with the threat of exile and desecration, he chose to hide them all.

As we learned, the shemen ha-mish’ḥa was used to anoint kings and high priests. The Rosh points out that the need to anoint the high priest is a clear passage in the Torah (see 30:30), but there is a prohibition to use the oil on any other person (see Shemot 30:32), whose punishment is karet (see above, daf 9). How was the decision made to use this oil on kings, as well?

He answers that the Gemara in Megilla understands that it is only forbidden to use this oil on a normal person. The king is not simply an adam (man) and therefore he does not fall into the category of the prohibition.

 

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